Keep it simple: Troy Ozone relying on pitching and defense

Published 6:41 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The old adage in baseball is pitching and defense win games. In 2018, the Troy Ozone team feels like they have the right formula to be successful.

Troy will begin play in the state tournament this afternoon when they take on Southeastern Blue in Greenville.

Troy Ozone was last on the field on June 23 when they knocked off Enterprise in a game-three win, earning them the district championship.

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Head coach Josh Prestwood had and his team immediately set out to improve their pitching. Troy has used their time going up against live pitching as well as taking their swings in the batting cage.

“We have focused on hitting since we played,” Prestwood said. “Every day we practice we go through three sets where we hit off a tee, go through soft toss and hit off the coaches. Then we do live stuff on the field. It’s good repetition.”

While hitting has been a focus during practice, Troy also continues to focus on pitching and defense. Jackson Cleveland and Parker Adams sit on top of Troy’s rotation and both helped pitch Troy to a district championship over Enterprise.

Adams pitched game three for Troy and held Enterprise to just two runs in a complete-game performance to lead Troy to a championship.

“Jackson Cleveland throws the ball well and so does Parker Adams,” Prestwood said. “If we are able to hit the ball and score runs and keep them throwing every day, that would be the plan. We were able to do that through district.”

Both pitchers offer a fair amount of velocity and even though Adams may have a few more pitches in his arsenal, both pitchers can hit their spots.

“Both of them throw the ball hard,” Prestwood said. “They are similar. Parker’s off-speed pitches may be a little better than Jackson Cleveland’s, but they both hit spots well.”

Hitting spots come in handy, especially when trying to hit the inside corner.

“They are both real consistent,” Prestwood said. “A lot of kids at this age don’t like to run inside. If you can run inside and if they hit it, they are going to hit it off the handle.”

Troy has also sent Kade Brookins and Wes Braisted to the mound, among others.

“Kade Brookins and Wes Braisted also threw well when I called on them,” Prestwood said. “Cole Pugh, I brought him in in a big situation to save Parker and he did his job.”

Brookins has also made an impact on defense up the middle at shortstop. He hasn’t been alone according to Prestwood. Troy’s defense all over the diamond continues to improve and make plays.

“There is a lot of speed in the outfield,” Prestwood said. “We are fundamentally sound. We are going to make a few errors, but most of the time we are going to make the routine plays.”

Troy will head to state along with 15 other teams. Prestwood knows the deeper they go, the better the chances of playing the state’s best.

“If we make a deep run we are going to run into Dothan and Alexandria,” Prestwood said. “Those teams are going to be strong.”

Troy and Southeast Blue will begin play at 3 p.m.